Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eleven...

My dear David,

Today you are eleven.  There's something about eleven.  Maybe it's that I don't have enough fingers to demonstrate your age.  Maybe it's that you are inching ever too closely to the teen years.  Maybe it's that I have been a mother for that long and am looking back over the big eleven we've experienced together, the way we have grown virtually side by side, you physically and me emotionally and spiritually.  I don't know.  Maybe it's that this eleventh marks the first without your Gammie.  Whatever it is, I am feeling ever so emotional today.

Eleven.  I hope that in these eleven years I have taught you some pretty basic principles that you can carry through your life and will make you a good man.  Because that's my wish for you... that you will be a good man.  When I look toward your future, I can't imagine what you will be.  I have no expectations for your career path or how much your retirement account should hold by the time you are forty.  I don't care where you go to college or if you choose to go at all.  I pray that you will be a man of character, make wise choices, and be a good husband and father one day.  I pray that you will be a young man of integrity, be honest, and be willing to change your views and decisions when you see they are not in line with God's will for you.  Most of all, I pray that one day you will hear the gentle whisper and feel the tug on your heart to open God's Word and get to know Him in a truly intimate way.

I know you think I am mean sometimes, and that's totally okay with me.  See, me being mean now equals my protection over your soul.  I have to remind myself sometimes that there are people out there with not-so-good intentions, forces waging against your little soul even at eleven.  There are things you don't need to see and hear and have access to.  And one day you will understand that my meanness wasn't mean at all... it was love for you, a love so deep that it doesn't care if you are mad at me for a few minutes out of the day, one that knows I have to be your filter right now of the weird world around us.

Sweet David, there are times when you seem so much like your daddy.  The way you move and the simplest little mannerisms make you look like a little Scott.  You share the need to go, go, go (and go FAST) with your daddy, and that's something you were definitely born with.  But there are some things you got from me.  You have a quiet strength, the way you can just dig through a tough situation without really calling any attention to yourself.  You simply persist through it, and I think that is something that you got from me, and that I got from your Gammie.  Like I told you when your Gammie went to be with Jesus, I hope one day you will look back at all she went through and realize what a lovely strength she had.  Strength and character don't have to be aggressive or loud or the boldest in the bunch.  True strength comes from God, and it bubbles up quietly from inside.

In eleven years, you will be a man.  You will look back at eleven with a smile and fond memories.  And I hope that I will look at you in amazement and pride at the person you have become.  The gift of being a mother is so magnificent... to experience you from the very beginning, from the little foot inside my ribs to the crying infant I could not please to the bubbling laughter of a little boy to who you will become one day.  There's nothing like being a mother, and I am so grateful to be yours!

I love you without limits!
Your Crazy Mama

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For my Daddy...

Daddy,

I have fretted over this day, Father's Day, in my mind more this year than ever before.  I have always been satisfied with seeing you the Saturday before, handing you a card, giving you a hug and maybe a bag of chocolate covered peanuts, and calling Father's Day handled.  But this year feels different, and I have racked my brain trying to figure out what to do, something special to buy you, how to be there with you.  But then I realized I can't give you what you really want, and I know that you wouldn't want me to leave my kids and husband today to come hang out with you.  So on this Father's Day morning, I will give you my words.

I remember us going shopping for Mama around Christmas.  I think Trey and Todd went with us, too, when I was really little, before they could drive.  I have this memory of being upstairs in Gayfer's just as you got off the escalator in the housewares section.  I was looking at the little porcelain birds, and that was always a favorite of hers.  I remember buying her that dream tree, the gold tree with all the little gold leaves hanging.  I remember in Louisiana a beautiful owl print in a frame we went and bought her.  And I remember going with you to pick out her anniversary band.  Lots of memories of you and I together finding things to make her smile.

I also remember the way you always left me special gifts for different occasions.  When you traveled, you would leave things for me on my bed... Valentine's Day and birthdays, you never forgot me.  You always made me feel special in your own way.  And I watched as you made my mother feel special.  You loved to work out a surprise for her.  The Christmas you surprised her with Buffy in a box.  The dining room set you bought and had delivered and set up for a big surprise.  The Garth Brooks concert you arranged for her even though you didn't like country music.  You were always looking for a way to make her happy, and that has stuck with me all these years.  Watching you love her the way you did made me love you even more.

So here we are.  Me and you.  Missing her something terrible.  Finding this awkward and painful common ground these days.  In the midst of it all, we are finding out how similar we really are.  And we are also talking about things I never dreamed we would... you are showing me your insect bites, and I am telling you that my kids are driving me to the brink of insanity.  And both of us are all the while asking ourselves what she would tell the other.  You and I are leaning on one another in a way we didn't think possible.  Even though it won't ever be what we both had with her, it works beautifully, and I know it makes her happy.

So on this day, daddy, I want to say I love you.  I am grateful to have you now more than ever.  You are my family and my friend.  And I know you're probably crying now, because I am, too.

Love,
Your baby girl, the one you always called Stinky, even though I hated it so.
It doesn't bother me as much now, though.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Life lessons from the microwave...

My house may not be immaculate, but there are two things that are normally clean in my house, the toilets and the microwave.  It's not like it's some major feat of epic proportion or anything... both toilets and microwaves are small and easily maintained.  And I wouldn't say they are ever perfect, yet that's the two things that drive me most insane in my house when they are dirty, so I strive to stay on top of them.  Anywho...

About a month ago, Madalyn decided to make herself a snack.  Without permission.  Her nana had given her a couple of those single servings of Velveeta shells and cheese in the little microwavable cup.  I had fixed one for her the day before, but I was busy doing something in the garage, and Madalyn decided to help herself.  She's like that.  She needs, needs, needs me all day long, and then in the most inconvenient moments, she decides to help herself.  It certainly keeps things interesting around here.  So, Madalyn comes downstairs to tell me that she needs a little help.. she's made a mess.  I trotted up the stairs following an odor I couldn't quite describe adequately.  A little like burnt popcorn but with a touch of melted Tupperware.  Smoke billowed through the kitchen, and I immediately opened the door and windows to let it out.  You see, my dear sweet little girl opened the little cup of shells and put them in the microwave with no water.  Do you know what pasta does in the microwave with no water?  I do, and it's not pleasant, and I am thankful to still have a house much less a microwave.

Now, my patience level with Madalyn is surprisingly increased since my mother passed away.  It's a phenomenon I cannot explain, but I have a theory that my mother in heaven has something to with it.  It must be of a divine nature.  I couldn't help but laugh as she explained that I was busy and she only wanted a snack.  I had to stress to her, however, that she could not use the microwave without my assistance or approval.

To my dismay, the microwave was a mess.  The inside was stained a yellowish brown and smelled terrible.  I cleaned it as best I could, but the stain had set into the plastic.  I googled and consulted pinterest on ways to clean such issues.  I tried a few things, and both the smell and stain diminished some, but the damage had been done.  My microwave was forever changed, and there was nothing in my power that could be done.

Stuff like that drives me nuts.  When things happen outside of my control.  When my kid breaks something.  When someone scratches my car in the Publix parking lot.  When a visiting child spills their drink on the carpet.  When life stretches outside of my order of things.

I am certainly not a control freak, but there are the little things I do try to control.  And when I lose my grip of them, it pushes me to a weird place.  A place where grace is necessary but not necessarily easy.

Just this morning, I opened up my scarred microwave to find it splattered with potato soup and beefaroni.  The kids had obtained permission, but they had not covered their food, and the evidence was everywhere.  My first reaction was to roll my eyes and sigh.  But then I tried to look at it through their little eyes, ones that are so excited to have a bit of independence, little hands that may have tried to cover the food with a paper towel but not gotten it just right.  And that's where the grace has to flow.  It has to pour all over it and wipe it clean.

I've been thinking about grace a lot lately.  Mainly because I feel like my Father is pouring it down on my head here lately.  Most of my prayers consist of the words I just can't seem to get it all together right now, and I feel Him put His hand on my shoulder and rub it a little.  I feel like a child who just wants to  fix her own snack in the microwave, just a quick little snack, but it's not quite turning out the way I thought.  But God waits in the wings.  He keeps the house from burning down.  He molds me and instructs me with His Word.  He's got more grace than I have Lysol kitchen cleaner, and it's a lovely thought that He cleanses me better than any idea or tip I found on google or pinterest.

The key, I think, to Godly living is demonstrating that grace to others.  Not just to your children and your spouse, but to the teacher at your child's school you don't particularly like or to the mom at the ball park who is acting a fool during the little league game.  And I must admit, it's not an easy task.  Living from a place of grace is not something that comes easy nor is it something the world embraces.  But when we look at a passage from Ephesians, we are instructed on how to live:

Be compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   {4:32, 5:1-2}

Our imperfect world filled with imperfect people offers us plenty of opportunities to demonstrate such grace to others.  Is it easy?  Nope.  But think of how much better this place would be if a hand full of us gave it a try.

I think my goal this week will be living from a place of grace.  Who wants to join me?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thank you, Lord, for antibiotics.

Seriously.  I am so thankful to my Lord and Creator of the Universe that He created people smart enough to discover healing chemical properties on this earth.

I have been down.  Really down.  My throat felt like its walls were closing in on me.  I've been taking 2400 milligrams of ibuprofen a day for the past week for the pain in my throat, and all it did was lessen its severity.  My body felt like a log truck had run over it, dropped its load on top of me, and left me for dead.    When I say that I have been sick, I mean it, folks.

Yesterday, I made a second trip to a doctor and got a second round of antibiotics which already seem to be doing the trick.  And it makes me realize what an amazing world we live in... miraculous and awesome in so many ways, and all at the hand of our Creator.  His handy work is magnificent!

I have spent so much time cursing this land in which we live with its imperfections and sins and disappointments.  But the last couple of weeks, something has struck me right between the eyes.  Who am I to call God's creation anything less than amazing?

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

I think about how I feel when I make something, whether a craft or a gift or what have you, and someone immediately wants to knock it and point out all its imperfections.  If I put all my heart in it, created something I have pride in, then why would anyone want to point out all the tiny flaws?

I've spent a lot of time lately focusing on the flaws.  The hurts.  Disappointments.  The cancer.  Death.  Sorrow.  Sickness.  But what I see today is the antibiotics.  The feel better.  The endless possibility just beneath the surface.  The way He has crafted it all so brilliantly and left a miracle around every corner.  The way it's not perfect, nor will it ever be, but the good still outweighs the bad.

So, thank you, Lord, for antibiotics.  For the miracle of this life.  For the lessons I am learning.  And for what lies beyond.  Amen.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our last conversation...

One of the things I have heard the most since my mother's passing is this statement: "Talk to her; she can still hear you."  I know people mean well, and I know there might be a grain of truth to their words, but nothing beats the real deal.  A conversation in the flesh, not one in which I talk to the air and wonder if she really sits around in heaven waiting on me to say something.  I hope she doesn't.  I hope there are much more fantastic things to do there than sit around waiting by the proverbial phone.  I know she is aware of us, and I focus in on asking Jesus to give her a hug from me or tell her something instead of talking directly to her.

All that being said, I've been thinking a lot about our last conversation.  Mind you, it was one way.  I did the talking; she did the listening.  She lay there in her bed, chest rattling, breaths irregular and shallow.  I shut the door to her room and laid down beside her on the bed stroking her head and the hair that had finally started coming back in.

"Mama, I know you can hear me.  I know you can.  I have some things I need to tell you.  I went to Belk today... the same one in Prattville where we went to pick out Grandmother's suit that day.  I found you something, Mama.  It's a white suit, and I got a pretty pink shell to go underneath, and you will look just like an angel.  Everything is done and ready.  You can go with Jesus and be with your Mama and your Sister.  I will miss you so much.  So much every day.  I will never be the same without you here with me.  But I will thank God for you every day.  I promise I will.  I love you so much."

I laid there with the shell of her.  Just a barely hanging on body.  One so tired from the treacherous battlefield of cancer.  I can't say that I would ever be prepared to let her go, but there was no denying it was time.

There comes a point in every terminal illness that you realize the best thing to do for the one you love is to release them. Give them back to their Creator, give them permission to claim their prize.  Reassure them that even though they will be missed that everyone left behind will be okay.  It's one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but one of the most beautiful all at the same time.  I didn't think I wanted to chronicle it here, but I want to make it permanent in time for me, something I can not only review in my head, but one I can go back and revisit in typed words.

Truth is, I am learning so much about my future in writing.  I want so desperately to minister to people dealing with the terminal illness of a loved one.  I want to write a book about clinging on to the Truths of Scripture during the battle.  As an onlooker and caregiver, it's the only thing you've got.  There's no way to control any of it... not the treatment, the doctors, the patient, the dreadful disease eating away at your loved one's life.  But you can control the way it effects you, your relationship with the One who hurts along side you, the Creator of all life and of our true home in Heaven.  Funny how my 46,000 words I have of a novel {that needs a lot of work, mind you} means nothing to me any more.  I want to write about this whole cancer experience and turn it into something beneficial for others.  Talk about Divine Retribution (Isaiah 35:4).

I have tried my best to make good on my promise to her that night.  I have thanked God for her most every day.  Some days have been harder than others.  Some days there were many tears that accompanied my thanksgiving.  Some thanks were followed by a big ole' BUT I WISH SHE WERE STILL HERE.  He knows and understands.  And He strokes my long hair, just like she did in those final days, and comforts my soul.

Lord... sweet Heavenly Father... continue to rain your mercy down on my aching soul.  Continue to show me Your patience.  Thank you for the lovely lady you gave me for 35 years.  Thank you for taking out of her suffering and into Your radiant presence.  In Jesus precious and powerful name... Amen. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dear God,

People keep telling me to write my mom a letter, but maybe I should write You one instead.  I am finding it harder to talk to You these days.  I had gotten so good at it a while back, and somewhere along the way, I started to shut down.  To detach.  To curl into a fetal position inside of my soul and take a nap.

I know You understand, and I know You see the order of my grief, when this phase will end and blend into another.  But I feel the need to talk about it, and You know how I write better than I talk.  So much better.

When will this part end?  When will I feel a part of the world around me again?  When will I feel like a real human being instead of someone that misses my mama so desperately?  I know You can't tell me these answers, and even if You did, it wouldn't make me feel any better.  But I just feel so hollow right now that a little knowledge of when it all would end could maybe plug the hole a wee bit.  Maybe?  Probably not, but it would be worth a shot.

I know You are patient with me.  More patient than I am with myself.  I know You hold me as I sit in wait in the weirdest emotional state I've ever been in throughout my life.  I didn't really think I would be mad at You, but I guess I am a little.  Why did it have to be her?  Why not a crack head that didn't even take care of her own daughter... why couldn't You have let the fallen state of the world fall on her shoulders and not my precious mama?  Wouldn't that make more sense?  It would to me.

Even though I feel a little mad and detached from You right now, I am still clinging to Your promises.  Clinging.  I know that this, too, shall pass.  I know that You will use whatever I am feeling right now to pull me closer to Your Love.  I know that I have to feel what I am feeling to be whole again.  I just can't imagine what being whole in a world without my mother will look like.  But I will trust, even through the pain, that You have it all under control.  You know the beginning and end of everything and all the in betweens.  And my job right now is just to keep my faith even on the days when I don't want to, trusting that in Your time, things will all make perfect sense.

In Your perfect timing.

Love,
Your daughter